Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications called off a meeting it was due to hold with executives from dysfunctional state-owned signal distributor Sentech on Tuesday morning.
Sentech flew four company members, including its chairman, Quraysh Patel, to Cape Town this week to present its turnaround strategy to the committee. However, Sentech’s “plan for sustainability” did not reach the parliamentarians until Tuesday morning, giving them no time to review the document ahead of the meeting.
Patel apologised for the late delivery of the document and pleaded with the committee to hear the plan. But it’s the fourth time this year that a meeting between Sentech and parliament has had to be called off because the company had not prepared adequately.
However, the committee has a reputation of not hearing meetings if the required documentation has not been delivered on time and it would give no leeway to Sentech.
Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said it was unacceptable for Sentech not to have had the document delivered to the committee members last week.
“We need time to look at the document and compare it to the earlier one, because it is a revised strategy,” she said.
De Lille said the cost of bringing Sentech employees to Cape Town should be borne by those who flew to meet with the committee, because Sentech is in financial crisis.
“It is a waste of money and a waste of time, and the individuals should pay for the waste,” she said.
Democratic Alliance shadow communications minister Niekie van den Berg said the fact that Sentech did not send the documentation in time indicated that the company was not serious about a turnaround strategy.
“I am not sure if Sentech is trying to get the company going. We are at a critical stage, and Sentech is integral to many communications projects. This is a real concern for parliament.”
Committee chairman and ANC MP Ismail Vadi adjourned the meeting, allowing the committee time to scrutinise the document that Sentech was supposed to present.
It is unclear when Sentech will appear before the committee next. — Candice Jones, TechCentral